While students have enjoyed a three-month vacation, A&K Construction and its subcontractors have been hard at work turning what began as a concrete base into Murray State’s new Paducah, Ky., regional campus facility.
Kim Oatman, Murray State’s chief facilities officer, says construction is right where it needs to be. The campus is scheduled to be completed by mid-December to facilitate the campus’ 2014 spring semester.
Oatman has overseen construction of the new facility since its site work began in December 2012 and attributes the success of the project to the excellent coordination of A&K Construction, PFGW Architects, BFW Engineers and the Murray State Facilities Design and Construction staff.
With at least 40 workers on site working an average of 40 hours per week, Oatman said the new facility is now nearly 70 percent complete.
“This project has gone remarkably smooth and I am very pleased with where we are today,” he said. “The project is within budget and constructed to Murray State’s high standards and projected to be completed on time.”
Since classes adjourned in May, the structure, roofing, windows and masonry have almost been completed. Oatman said their work is now focused on the interior spaces of the building.
“(It is) very gratifying to be a part of this initiative to expand Murray State’s presence and educational services in the Paducah area and surrounding regions,” Oatman said. “I feel this is going to be a very positive chapter in Murray State’s history book and I am glad to be a small part.”
Of the nearly $10 million and 43,000-square-foot project, he said the drywall and painting still needs to be finished as well as the installation of plumbing, electric, flooring, ceilings, fixtures and casework.
Jay Morgan, vice president of Academic Affairs, said the new facility’s first semester will be a “soft opening,” meaning all the courses currently offered at the Paducah regional campus will simply be transferred and offered at the new facility. He said there will be a big push for the fall 2014 semester to ramp up the number of sections of courses and different academic programs.
Morgan said the University is looking to implement new courses in criminal justice, applied engineering, psychology, human development and leadership and a number of business and communications courses.
The other goal Morgan gave for the regional campus’ upcoming semesters is to grow its student body.
“This year we had around 1,100 or 1,200 in Paducah,” Morgan said. “For next fall we’d like to bump that up a couple of hundred students and our goal is within four or five years to get that up to 2,000 students, almost a doubling of the number of students we have there now.”
Brian Van Horn, dean of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, said the Paducah regional campus’s first year will be an opportunity to study and work with Paducah and the region of McCracken County to figure out what degrees need to be offered to best facilitate the region.
He said Murray’s regional campuses are designed to be the nuts and bolts of education and while they won’t offer sororities, fraternities or other clubs and organizations, they continue to provide the same quality education students receive at Murray State’s main campus.
“What Murray state is doing in Paducah and the other regional campuses is we’re building a workforce for tomorrow which should help bring business in to our area,” he said. “Murray State’s mission is to provide access to education for the westernmost 18 counties of Kentucky and this campus will help us meet that goal.”
Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor